Saturday, September 13, 2008

A one-two punch for small business prospect communications

If you’re a sole proprietor or run a small business, there are two important things that are especially important to highlight in first-contact prospect communications such as your introductory brochure and web site.

First and uppermost (literally), benefits. What are the important or unique benefits a prospect will enjoy by contracting with you? What’s your Unique Selling Proposition? I know this is MarCom 101, but it’s amazing how often I have to dig through a brochure, flyer or web site to find this information. In this attention-deficit-disorder world, you have to get their attention right away, and nothing gets attention like benefits.

Second, follow up with assurances. Probably the number one obstacle to someone buying a product or service from a small business is fear: fear of losing money, fear of feeling “taken,” and/or fear of wasting time. So task number two is to remove the fear. Ways to reassure prospects that their buying experience with you will be a safe one include: offering a guarantee, presenting credentials, being liberal with your contact information (lack of same is a dead fly-by-night giveaway), providing a list of past customers, presenting robust customer testimonials, and offering to provide references.

Where to do it

In a printed piece, you can put both the benefit and the assurance in the top two headlines:
“Free your home of mice in two days!”
“Results guaranteed!”

Another approach is to have the benefits in the headline(s) and have the fear-removal language at the bottom of the page in prominent type. I like this approach better for B2B communications, because the audience tends to be a little more leery of businesses that feel the need to reassure right away.

For web sites, the place to highlight the benefits is on the home page, of course. The assurances can be alluded to in a side bar or low bar, and expanded upon on the About page. Again, for B2B communications, being indirect is better.

Attracting with benefits, and closing with assurances: a great one-two punch for all your small business prospect communications.